Monday, June 23, 2014

Week Fifty Eight - Testimony of Girls Camp and Last Meeting With President Durrant!

Baptism of J. A. and her family!

David, J.A. and Elder Packham!
Dear Family,

   I now have a testimony of Girl's Camp.  Have I ever been?  Of course not.  But I have always heard girls talk about how amazing and magical it is.  I just figured it was girls being girls, and I was always grateful that I was a man and got to go to the macho high adventure camp.  Well now I know that Girl's Camp really is MAGICAL!  Our investigator, J., I believe I already told you that she was being a typical teenaged girl and church and baptism were the last thing she wanted anything to do with.  She dressed quite immodestly, she was always very quiet, and she just had an attitude.  We encouraged her to go to Girl's Camp, and thanks to a push from her parents, she went.  We prayed for her all week that she would be touched by the Spirit and come home feeling differently about baptism.  Well, I wouldn't be telling you this if a miracle didn't take place.  J. came home from Girl's Camp practically a new person!  She had a blast at camp, really opened up, and made lots of friends.  She now dresses differently, she has a brighter, happier appearance,and best of all, she wanted to get baptized the very next Saturday!  And she did, and everything went well, and I could not be happier right now!  We even have an investigator come to both the baptism on Saturday, as well as church on Sunday.  His name is E., and I have a good feeling about him.  
   I went on an exchange this week with Elder Bowden to Plano.  Plano is a rough area.  It is a very rich town, very few Hispanics, and they have nothing going on there.  So it was a long day of knocking doors.  But it was a nice little change of scenery for a day.  
   On Wednesday we had a specialized training, where all the Spanish missionaries in the mission get together for a meeting with President Durrant.  It was our last meeting with President Durrant; he goes home in two weeks!  So we pretty much said goodbye to him.  He has tried very hard to talk as little about basketball as he possibly could for his three years as a mission president, but it has been hard because his missionaries are constantly asking him about his basketball glory days.  So at this meeting, he finally gave in and showed us a three second video clip of him dunking a basketball when he was at BYU.  But the neat thing about it, and the only reason why he showed it, was that the teammate that passed him the ball was Brian K. Taylor, our new mission president!  So that was pretty stinking cool.  President Durrant is a boss and I am going to miss him.  If anybody would like an idea of how great this guy is, y'all should read a book called A Dad, a Boy, and a Ball, written by George D. Durrant.  But I am super excited to meet the new mission president and see how things change.  We meet him next week!
   We had a great week, worked hard, and I feel good.  

-We are still really well fed by members.
-Pizza for Lunch around 12 would be nice on Thursday : )
-I don't need anything, thank you!
-no lunch... yet

Thanks for understanding.  Happy to hear all is well at home.  Tom, I know how ya feel!  Love and miss you all, and I pray that everybody has a great week!

Elder Williams  

Week Fifty Seven - Helping People Move and A BYU Channel Fan!

Hey Fam!  

HAPPY FATHER'S DAY TO MY PAPA!  I hope you had a great day yesterday and everybody let you know how much they appreciate and love you.
Another good week here in McKinney.  We were busy and it just flew by!  We worked hard, sweat a lot, and had some good things happen.  
   We helped two families move in to a new home this week, the first one being a nonmember family coming from Arizona.  They had contact with the missionaries there in Arizona, and they got their new information to us, and we were able to help them!  It was pretty neat.  It was super exhausting because their apartment was on the third floor!  It was a pain, and one of the Hermanas that was helping us out even got heat exhaustion and was throwing up the rest of the day!  But she is fine now, and we all left with a good feeling knowing that we were able to help.  The family was very appreciative, and they will probably get baptized this fall.  Then we helped a member family move to McKinney from Plano, and they will be a great addition to the branch.  We also helped a Nigerian couple move a fridge into their apartment.  They were funny and had also talked to missionaries regularly in the past.  So we got to do lots of service this week.  I love serving! 
   We had the coolest contact this week when we ran into a pizza delivery lady who watches the BYU channel!  The BYU channel is actually her favorite channel and she thinks Mormons are awesome!  She had some very good questions, and she was open minded to everything we said.  The English elders haven't been able to get a hold of her yet, but I'm sure they will in time.  I just thought it was so funny to meet somebody that enjoys watching the BYU channel!
   The youth in the branch went on High Adventure camp and girls camp this week.  The young men went to New Mexico to do some river rafting and to climb the highest mountain in New Mexico.  They didn't even make it to the top because everybody got altitude sickness, headaches, and some were even throwing up.  Silly Texans can't handle a little altitude apparently.  Psh!  It was fun to hear about their adventure and it made me so jealous!  Texas is not the place to enjoy the great outdoors.  Neither is a mission. 
   Yesterday we were invited over to a member's home for dinner.  It was the Sister's birthday, Hermana Arreola.  Apparently, every year since she has been a member, she gets a picture on her birthday with her cake and the elders.  Not her husband, not her kids, no friends, just the cake and the elders.  She cracks me up!  
   Jackie and Lizeth are coming along well, and that is pretty much all we've got going on right now. 
   We went disc golfing this morning and found a stinky dead armadillo.  
   Grandma Thelma's funeral is the only other funeral I've ever been to.  I don't remember too much about it though.
   Sherman will be in my prayers.
   Keep biking, Tommy Boy! 

-I received both breakfast packages.  Thank you!
-Yes, the temple was the prize for winning the McKinney Madness competition.
-I can't think of anything else I need at the moment.  
-I haven't tried the knee high panty hose yet, but yes I believe that is what is best for preventing chiggers.  

I want to thank everybody for the love and support they send me and for everything else they do.  Y'all are the best, and I love and miss ever body!  Elder Packham and I are going to have a very good week this week and I can't wait to come back to the library to tell you all about it!  

Elder Williams

Week Fifty Six - Attending a Funeral and Going to the Temple!

David and Elder Packham at the Dallas Temple - they won the competition!

David and his friend Aleck, who leaves on his mission to Peru in September.

Four-day-old pit bulls!

They found a friend out by the dumpster....
David lost in the corn!
I apologize for the short email last week, but this email stuff is getting old!  Especially when nothing hardly happens during my week.  But I do love hearing about y'all's week, and I know you love hearing about mine, so I will try my best to not let that happen again.  But I do want to let you know that some members bought our Subway sandwiches last Monday after emailing.  MIRACLE!   
So I will share with you the events that have taken place over the last two weeks, in no particular order at all.  
Elder Packham and I went to the temple!  When you only get to go to the temple once every six months, you sure do appreciate it a lot more.  It was a great experience as always, and I can't wait until I will be free to go every single week!  I think it is easy to take the temples for granted at home considering the fact that we live right in the middle of about 6 temples that are all within a half hour of us.  I hope everybody is taking advantage of the easy temple access that we are blessed with!  Oh, and I met a temple worker that went to my high school 40-something years ago!  It's a crazy small world. 
We attended the funeral of Hermana Mondragon's mother.  She moved in with the Mondragon family about three months ago when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  When I first met her, she could walk and talk, carry on a conversation and think fairly straight.  It was sad to see how fast she lost her ability to do all of those things, and her last couple of weeks of life she couldn't do anything but breath and eat.  So Hermana Mondragon invited us to the funeral, and we went.  I quite sure it was only the second funeral I've ever attended in my life; the first being when I was in first grade.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  It was strange.  Nearly everybody was crying, and some people were even wailing.  We listened to some pastor that was really animated talk and rehearse scriptures from the Bible for over close to an hour, which was about an hour too long.  It felt very ungenuine.  David Mondragon was the only other member there besides us.  It was interesting to see the difference between him and the rest of his family.  He asked me what LDS funerals were like.  I told him I didn't know because I had never been to one, but I would imagine they are a little different.  Attending the funeral made me grateful for the knowledge that I have of the Plan of Salvation.  
My legs are covered in chiggers.  If you don't know what they are, google it!  When I first heard about them, I just thought it was some joke that was told to the greenies to scare them about walking on grass.  Nope!  They are real and they are a pain!  I seem to pick up one or two more every day.  We were told that the best remedy for chiggers is wearing pantyhose or covering the bites with nail polish.  I haven't gone to the store yet to get some pantyhose, and I don't know if I will.  But we have been trying the nail polish and it seems to be working fairly well after a few treatments.  But I haven't itched this bad since the shingles!  
It is getting HOT.  We have had a few days lately of low and mid 90's, and I am starting to wonder how I survived last summer.  But people are always willing to give us water bottles, and I am sure I will adjust to the heat and survive.
We are teaching quite a bit, but mostly one and done lessons with stubborn, hard-headed, flaky people.  We have one progressing investigator, who is a nine year old girl that should be baptized on the 21st of this month.  Her older sister did have a date as well, but we have come to find out that she is a bit of a rebellious, typical sassy teenage girl, that isn't too gungho about any of this church stuff.  It is hard because she is super quiet in front of us and won't tell us what is really on her mind and how she really feels.  But she left for girls camp this morning and that should be really good for spiritual progress.   

-I would probably eat just about any breakfast/granola bars that you send me.  Anything  that is healthy, filling, and doesn't taste like cardboard.
-You can hold on to the protein powder.  If nobody else wants it and it doesn't expire before I get home, then I would be happy to use it after the mission.  
-Still working on the wart.
-The CD's are great, but there are only a handful of songs that I really consider appropriate for every day missionary work.  But sometimes I put them in on a P day or just when I need a boost of energy or a picker-upper because the songs really make me want to TWIST and SHOUT(dance and sing like a maniac).
 -I can't think of anything I need.

That's all I can think of.  McKinney is getting kind of old.  I feel like I am running out of things to do, places to knock, people to talk to, and things are just slowing down.  But I am doing well, smooth sailing with the comp, and you don't need to worry about me!  Much love and I miss everybody!  Have the best week of your life!

Elder Williams  

Week Fifty Five - Too Hungry to Think!

Buenos Dias familia! 

Alright.  I'm so hungry I can't sit still, I can't focus, and thinking about telling y'all about my week gives me a headache.  Allergies have already come and gone, I think.  It has been in the high 80's, and apparently this week is supposed to be quite hot.  P days have not been anything special.  Today we have appointments in the afternoon, and we are helping people move after that.  I'm good.  All is well.  Love and miss you all.  Thanks for the update.  I'm going to Subway!  Sorry.

Elder Williams

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week Fifty Four - Happy 20th Birthday to David!!

Elder Belnap, David's district leader.

LDS with pride!

Happy Birthday to David!!

Beautiful Texas sunset!

David walks into the sunset....

A wee lil snake they found while knocking doors!
Hey Fam!

   So as you probably could have guessed, I was unable to email yesterday because of the holiday.  Everything was closed!  So here I am to tell you about my week.  I had a great week and a very happy birthday.  My birthday was pretty much just like any other day.  All business with a few exceptions.  My district leader, Elder Belnap, came from Plano to McKinney for an exchange.  He goes home tomorrow, so Tuesday was his last chance to eat Texas BBQ at Hutchins.  We stuffed ourselves like you would not believe!  Then we had an early dinner two hours later at the Mondragon home.  It was quite the challenge.  They bought me a tres leches cake, and the Spanish tradition is that the birthday boy or girl has to do a "mordida", or take a bight out of the cake, but really it's just so they can smash your face in the cake.  I totally saw it coming, so I was tricky and super fast, and I was able to eat my cake without getting my face smashed into it!  I got a birthday phone call from President Durrant, as well as Brother Rogers, which I believe was passed on from you, Mother, to Sister Wyss, and then to him.  He said "hugs and kisses from mom!" and then apologized that he couldn't give me the real things.  But other than lots of good food and a couple of special phone calls, it was just another day in paradise, knocking a few doors and contacting referrals.  But I enjoyed it!  
   A lot happened this past week.  Our visit to the physical therapist on Monday was a treat.  We thought we were just going to go play around and have a good time, but she put us through a workout and kicked our butts!  I learned some good stuff though.  On Friday we had a zone conference, which is always a good time.  We had car inspections and Elder Packham and I got rewarded the second cleanest car in the parking lot!  But that was only because we were anticipating the inspection and we took it to the car wash and vacuumed it the morning of the meeting.  Leave it up to some hermanas to have an even cleaner car than us.  Meetings with President Durrant are just the best.  My respect and admiration for him grows with every one.  Next month is our last meeting with him, and everybody is going to miss him dearly.  
   On Saturday there was a branch baptism of a little boy who just turned 8.  His mom was baptized in February, and his sister in December.  I don't know if I've ever seen somebody so excited to be baptized.  He went down into the water, and then literally jumped up out of the water!  That little boy knew he was clean clean clean, and it was so neat and touching to see somebody so young truly understand the significance of baptism.  
   We had a neat experience later that day when we knocked on the door of some hardcore Catholics.  They told us straight up that they are very involved and satisfied with where they go to church and are not interested.  They told us they had no time.  But somehow we got them talking more, but they were just telling us about how great the Catholic church was, and for a while it was almost mild, polite arguing.  I don't remember or know how things changed, but after 15 minutes of talking on their doorstep, they invited us in.  We talked more and politely exchanged religious views and beliefs.  Then we got on the topic of the Book of Mormon, we started sharing verses and answering their questions with the Book of Mormon, and it was incredible to see how the mother, specifically, and the most Catholic, softened and opened up to this book.  After an hour and a half of talking, we left with her accepting an invitation to read the Book of Mormon, which in the beginning we thought there was no shot at that!  The Book of Mormon is the key.  It is powerful.  It is true.  EVERYBODY SHOULD BE READING THIS BOOK!  
   So I went an entire year of my mission before being asked to give anything more than my testimony in a Sunday meeting.  That's pretty lucky!  But I was asked to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting this past Sunday on a General Conference address by President Monson from 2002, called "Models to Follow".  I guess it went fine, but I just feel like I speak with no emotion in Spanish over the pulpit.  And I spoke for over 10 minutes, so it was probably pretty boring.  But I love the topic I was given.  God has always blessed me with good models in my life to look up to and follow.  One of the things that strengthens my testimony more than anything else is meeting incredible saints in the Church.  The happiest, noblest, admirablest people I have ever met are faithful, converted members to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The people I look up to most build their lives around the Gospel of Jesus Christ above all else.  It is people like this that make it obvious to me that this is the Lord's church, and I am on the right path.  I love the Prophet, and every other leader of the Church down to the many young men's leaders I have had.  Dad, you are a greater role model to me than you will ever know.  The Lord has put good people in my path.  
-Elder Packham and I were far from our goal of a 30 lesson week, but luckily we didn't get transferred and we have six more weeks to reach it!  
-I got my birthday package on Wednesday, along with letters from Tom, Dad, and both grandparents.  Thank you for everything!  I could not have asked for anything more or better!  Emilee - one of the pairs of socks might be a little too femmee,  but I am going to give them a try.  As far as the other pair goes, I don't know if I have ever been more in love with any other article of clothing.  And Dad, yes I do get the Ensign every month, thank goodness!  Those Cwood baseball numbers were very interesting.  Some impressive, some surprising, and some very disappointing.  I still miss baseball!  

I think that is about it.  Make sure my baby knows that I love him and he is in my prayers.  Then tell Toby to tell the family likewise.  Have a good week!

Elder Williams 

Week Fifty Three - Some Amazing Physical Therapy and Loving Spanish!

The District!

The District, again!

Smashing toilets service project!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOMMY!  Glad to hear you had a good day yesterday!  
We had a pretty good week here.  Nothing crazy; it was hard and frustrating, people were flaky, but we managed to have a good time, just like every other week!  
Our best investigators right now are Jackie(12 but looks like she is 15) and Lizeth(9 but looks like she is 12), the daughters of a recently reactivated family that was baptized about 5 years ago.  They are both super shy, and we have been trying super hard to get them to open up to us, and we have been stressing out over trying to make the lessons fun and simple for them.  Teaching young kids is hard!  But we make them laugh, and we are starting to establish a friendship with them.  Their parents are great and a huge help.  We set a baptismal date with them this week for the 14 of June, and I actually feel pretty good about this one!  
We got some disappointing news last night from one of our other top investigators when she told us that they were leaving for Mexico for the summer on the 9th of June.  Her husband needs to stop working on Sundays, along with her oldest son, they need to get married, and the whole family just needs to show more commitment and get more involved.  They want to consider baptism more seriously when they come back in August.  They are a great family and would be a great addition to the branch, and I believe they will soon, but their time I guess is just not yet.  
I feel like we are wasting our time with people that always let us in and accept our message, but don't act on it and never progress(eternigators is what we call them here in the mission).  We have the goal of teaching 30 total lessons for this last week of the transfer, which is double what we taught this week.  But we are going to work our tails off this week to find and teach some people that are really ready! 
On Thursday we had a Stake Priesthood meeting that was really good.  Stake meetings here in McKinney are nearly general conference status!  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is just amazing.
I felt pretty useful this week at the place where we do service when I was needed to translate for a customer.  I love being able to speak Spanish!    
I can't remember if I told you about Aleck yet, but he is a member of one of the English wards and leaves for his mission to Peru in a few weeks.  He has been coming out with us a lot to get a feel for Spanish and the mission life.  He is a great kid and going to be a killer missionary.  But his mom is a crazy brilliant physical therapist who apparently works miracles.  She can fix anything from what we had heard.  She has helped her mom recover from six strokes, she healed Terrell Owens' knees, she's got an 11 year old kid throwing a baseball 90 mph, and George Foreman is currently on her waiting list!  She is the real deal, and we got to meet her for the first time last night.  She identified my shoulder problems without knowing any of my history just by looking at me!  She knew I did a lot of bench press and that my right shoulder was worse than my left.  She said she could see a lot of other problems with my body but she didn't want me to feel self conscious so she wouldn't tell me all of them.  But apparently I haven't been able to breath the way I should be able to because my chest was too tight, restricting my lungs and preventing my diaphragm from working the way it should.  She worked on my for 10 minutes and my shoulders haven't felt this good in years, my posture is better, I stand taller, and I can breath better, and she made it easier to touch my toes than ever before!  I don't even know what she did to me but it was crazy!  I'm hoping to work for this lady after my mission.  This afternoon she is letting us come into her gym/studio for a training and to mess around with her equipment.  It will be neat!  
Dickey's is everywhere in Texas, and I've never eaten there, but I've heard it's one of the worst in Texas.  I guess now I'll have to try it out for myself!  
I am sorry to hear about David's brother.  That is terribly sad and his family will definitely be in my prayers.
Tom, I am super excited for your bike trip to California!  You should definitely continue to train hard because that is going to be an incredible accomplishment!  I want to do that kind of stuff when I get home.

-I got your first package on Friday, but I haven't opened up any of the wrapped presents yet because I wasn't sure if they were for my birthday or year mark.  I'm saving them for tomorrow.
-Thursday was weekly planning day, my least favorite day of the week, and it was not special by any means.  But we went to Chili's on Saturday and enjoyed a nice meal.
-Yes I can listen to cd's, and I just realized that I should have asked for some of those for my birthday, because I am getting really tired of the music that I've got.
-For my birthday my district leader is coming to my area for an exchange with me.  It is his last week in the mission, and he really wants to eat at Hutchins in McKinney before he goes.  So we will probably go there at some point, but other than that, no plans.  Holidays are just like any other day in the mission, and they come and go before you know it, so I am not planning on anything special.  
-The weather has been perfect lately, 70's and 80's, lots of overcast and rain and I love it!  

That's all I've got for y'all this week.  Love and miss you all!  Have a superb week! 

Elder Williams

Week Fifty Two - Happy One-Year Anniversary and Skyping on Mother's Day!

Hi Everyone,

Well, David told us that he would e-mail us today, even though we talked to him for about an hour and a half yesterday, but all he ended up doing was sending a couple of pictures.  He is doing really well, still loving being in McKinney and got in a little trouble for having his hair cut too short!  I guess he and his companion had a member cut their hair and it is super short.  He loves it and says he’s going to wear his hair like that when he gets home, but we’ll see.  

He told us a story about what is going on in these pictures.  Some church members had a tree with a huge branch that they were worried was going to fall on their house.  So, they rounded up a bunch of help and David and two or three others were on the roof.  They had a guy, who supposedly knew what he was doing, cut the branch off, and it was suspended in the air by a bunch of ropes.  Well, it turned out to be harder than they thought and David said it was super close to crashing down on their roof, but they managed to get it cut up into smaller pieces, mostly, before it crashed to the ground, barely missing the house.  He said it was crazy!

He also told us a funny story about getting a card in the mail saying that they may have won a prize at a car dealership if the two numbers on the card matched.  Well, of course the numbers matched, so they hurried down to the car dealership for their chance at winning one of seven different prizes.  He said the guy took them in a back room where there was a roulette wheel with the prizes on it and they got to spin the wheel.  They could have won an ipad or some other great prizes or….a lottery ticket.  And guess what they won?  The lottery ticket, of course!  So, they had a chance to win up to $770 on the lottery ticket and when they scratched it off, they were the lucky winners of $2!  And, of course, they will be entered into the grand prize to win a couple of cars.  I just thought this was a very typical David story and it cracked me up!

This is a picture he sent with Sister Rachel Wyss, who is a friend that he grew up with and they went to school together all through grade school, jr. high and high school.  She just barely got to the Texas Dallas mission and her first area is McKinney!  What a coincidence!  Before she left, Dave and I went to her farewell and Dave asked her if she would give David something.  She said she would and he took her hand and made a fist out of it and told her that when she saw David to punch him in the arm as hard as she could and to tell him it was from his dad!  We had kind of forgotten about that and when we talked to David, he told us that he saw Rachel at their zone meeting and she punched him in the arm….really hard!  And, she told him it was from his dad!  We got a kick out of that and Dave said he was very proud of her to deliver that to David!  She is an adorable, sweet girl and her mom is very happy that she is in an area where she knows someone.

Well, those are the highlights of the call.  Our Skype didn’t work super well and we ended up talking to him over the phone and seeing him on Skype.  It was noisy where he was and we could hear his companion talking to his family better than we could hear David at first – so David kicked him out of the house onto the porch!  You can tell that it is weird for him to talk to us and I often wonder if they struggle a little with that home-sickness stuff after the calls.  He got to see Toby and talk to all of us.  He is looking forward to his final year – his one year anniversary is this Thursday, on the 15th.  He has a lot of goals set and knows that it will go by really fast.  He said the past year has really flown by for him.  He had an interview with President Durrant last week and told him he wanted to take him to lunch to get to know him better.  President Durrant wrote down a note and his phone # and told him he would give him a call  - I really hope he does.  He leaves in July and David gets a new mission president.  We asked David to speak to Em’s David in Spanish and he did and sounded like he really knows the language.  Em’s David said he is fluent in Spanish and he could understand everything he said, which is cool!  He even talked to Tom in Spanish and Tom back to him in Portuguese, and they could each understand each other, mostly.  It was a great call and it was super hard to tell him goodbye – I really hate that part!  But we will be talking to him again in a short seven months!